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The Gentrification Of Charlemont Street P.I

category dublin | anti-capitalism | news report author Monday March 24, 2014 01:34author by Nico Report this post to the editors

The term ‘gentrification’ was coined in 1964 by sociologist – Ruth Glass. She defined it as a change in the social structure and housing market in working class areas. She explained – "One by one, many of the working class quarters have been invaded by the middle class - upper and lower ... Once this process of 'gentrification' starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the working class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed" (Glass, 1964, p.xvii).

Predominately a working class neighbourhood, Charlemont Street had witnessed some drastic changes down through the years. At one time they were host to some of the worst tenement slums in Dublin, revolutionary Marxist, James Connolly, resided there for a short while. Charlotte Street, recently destroyed, used to be an ancient road that led directly to the Battle of Rathmines in 1649. In later years it housed many working class families.

Long after the slums had since gone, and Charlotte Street wiped from the face of the planet, new and modern buildings started springing up from where the old tenement houses once stood. This quick change from antiquated to contemporary was the signalling precursor for the beginning of what was to become the unyielding gentrification process of Charlemont Street.

Dubbed the 'Millionaires Quarter' for reasons I will now outline below, Harcourt Street, Adilade Road, Iveagh Court, and Charlemont Street, all fall within this section of big business, and corporate elite. Central Bank has one of its offices there, and many other financial enterprises also occupy the district. Two Luas stations are both situated within a 3 minute walk in either direction from Tom Kelly flats, and a Star Bucks also sits neatly on the corner. A new Hotel overlooks the canal surrounded by new massive office spaces on all sides. And all are within a stones throw away from each other, in this playground for the rich, hence its nom de guerre.

Sitting smack bang in the middle of this once proud working class part of Dublin, now a mainly central business district, lies Charlemont Street and Tom Kelly Flats; where some of the last remaining remnants of the labouring class from the entire area now live.

In the early 90's, property developer Sean Reilly, of Alcove Properties, paid just under £4m for a one-acre plot at the top of Harcourt Street and Charlemont Street.

Reilly's planning application consisted of “150,000 sq ft new seven-storey commercial office building comprising 30,000 sq ft on Harcourt Street, as well as a six-storey extension of about 12,000 sq ft to the Iveagh Court building with a realigned front entrance”.

It wasn't long before Reilly set up shop and commenced work on over 100 new private apartments, and a new major office space.

But even before any work had started, negotiations were well under way with the residents in Charlemont Street and Tom Kelly Flats, and Reilly's spokespeople, and DCC. In what way were the new buildings going to affect the residents lives, for better or worse, was the point of argument from the residents at hand.

Some issues raised by the concerned locals were about how the levels of dust, dirt and debris, travelling from the site into the complex, would affect them? How would the noise pollution from any work being carried out, such as drilling, and deliveries coming in and out at all ours, also affect them? Would any employment be available for Charlemont Streets largely unemployed population? Why should the residents have to suffer intolerably as their lives are disrupted, their neighbours displaced, their street transformed forever, and forced then to live beside a construction site for the duration of its build, right across the road from their homes. What was in it for them? Those were some of the very reasonable questions asked.

Reassuring the residents, Reilly's spokespeople responded by expressing that all their concerns would be taking on board, and that the issues raised would not be a problem once construction had begun. Also offered by Reilly at the time were full time jobs for the locals in the construction industry, and a promise of new job growth for the area once construction was completed. Some of the residents living in the front Blocks that were closest to the building site, received small amounts of compensation that amounted little to nothing, as soon as the full scale of things finally unfurled.

Despite all the residents concerns, they might as well have been living on the construction site for its entire duration. For months on end, they were unable to hang out clothes to dry because of the dirt and dust that hung on the air, and clung to everything like a magnet to a fridge. They were unable to sleep at night because of the noise pollution from late night deliveries and workers on overtime. The flats complex was littered with debris. And people were left feeling the pinch after hardly any jobs were giving to any of the locals as promised, unemployment remained pretty much at the same rate as before and after the buildings were built.

Once construction commenced and the last remaining Georgian working class homes were levelled to the ground, all the promises to the residents Reilly made previously, were broken. Working class homes were soon replaced by sterile office blocks, and middle-class-filled private apartments, thus changing the whole social structure of Charlemont Street, and with that, sealing the fate of peoples lives, forever.

The entire area had been completely hemmed in.
The gentrifiers had made their mark!

Part II coming soon...

author by Nicopublication date Mon Mar 24, 2014 01:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The red line indicates the spatial circumference in which Tom Kelly Flats lay situated today. The visible blocks are the proposed plans, and black line in the middle indicates the dividing line in what will inevitably be between private property and the middle class on one side, and the working class on the other.


author by Nicopublication date Mon Mar 24, 2014 01:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Developer Sean Reilly begins work on a large plot on Iveagh Court, Charlemont Street, begins building office blocks, and private apartments.

Many working class people displaced in the process as the area becomes gentrified.

Talks are ongoing between residents and Reilly to see what is in it for them.

Agreements reached, Reilly soon falls back on agreements, and promises made to the residents, such as employment for the area, the upkeep of Tom Kelly Flats, and issues arising from residents health concerns.

No interaction whatsoever on a community based level with residents from new apartments when finally built, despite a numerous amount of attempts from the existing committees to invite them to participate in community organised events.


Council propose plans for a complete refurbishment of the Tom Kelly Flats, internally, and externally.


  • Discussions begin in Tom Kelly flats on area regeneration.

  • Survey carried out revealed 52% of residents indicate damp problems in their homes.

  • People opt for regeneration, plans for refurbishment scrapped.

  • Under a Public-Private-Paternship Deal – PPP's, Bernad McNamara is selected by the council as the developer to undertake the regeneration of Tom Kelly Flats Complex.

  • 2001:

    St Ultans - (Congos) is purchased by the Council from Tom McFeely, and then depopulated and destroyed by the Council.


  • McNamara PPP deal spectacularly collapses. – “The council set up a taskforce which came to the conclusion that trying to establish new PPPs would not work given the state of the property market.”

  • 2011:

  • Under another Public-Private-Partnership Deal, Property developer Sean Reilly of Alcove Properties, is giving the go-ahead for the regeneration of Charlemont Street.

  • The project will involve the demolition of almost 200 flats on a five-acre site on Charlemont Street and Tom Kelly Road.

  • Some 260 apartments will be built, 139 of which will be social housing units, 16 will be offered under the affordable housing scheme and the remaining 105 will be private apartments, and also a significant office space element of about 20,000sq m.

  • Shops, restaurants, a sports centre and a multiplex cinema will be included in the scheme.

  • Since then:

  • Another two structurally sound blocks of flats have been destroyed, without even the final contract being signed.

  • People have been forced from their homes – due to overcrowded conditions/deliberate dereliction.

  • number of families have been displaced.

  • Large families forced to move of out of Tom Kelly pleaded with the council for bigger flats, to which they refused.

  • The council were asked if they would consider opening up the bottom flats to house some of the already overcrowded residents living there, the request like so many others, was also refused.

  • Some flats have been vacant now for well over 5 years or more.

  • Dampness remains a serious problem for many residents.

  • In total, 3 structurally sound blocks of flats have been completely destroyed.

Developer Sean Reilly:

2009: It emerged Reilly was one of the Anglo Ten who bought shares in Anglo Irish Bank, now being footed by the tax-payer.

Recently: NAMA prepares to sell over €300 million loans linked to property owned by Reilly.

May 2013: Reilly aims to buy back his loans at a €100 million discount.

January 2014: Reilly loses in bid to buy back loan portfolio Code-named Project Holly, a private equity fund, LoneStar, based in Dallas, acquires the loan portfolio of developer Reilly for €220 million or a discount of 41 per cent to par.

Some of the major assets lost include: the 210,000 sq ft Iveagh Court Complex, the five-block business and residential complex at the junction of Harcourt Road and Charlemont Street with current tenants.


author by Nicopublication date Mon Mar 24, 2014 01:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In recent years, Charlemont Street had become a hub of activity for rich outsiders keen to invest some of their fortunes in prime land, in and around the area. But with all this interest in area zoning came grave concern for many residents, and as consequence, the local indigenous working class communities were made to suffer as soon as the gentrification process took hold, and the rich outsiders started to turn the place on its head.

It wasn't too long before the whole overall schema of things would soon unravel and with it the transformation and destruction of this once proud neighbourhood would begin. The affects of alienation, disillusionment, and vulnerability, would sink in straight away for many, leaving a lasting grim expression for future generations to come.

The gentrification process in Charlemont street can best be observed in the vacant land around it being turned into opportunities that enable profitable investment for rich outsiders, and entrepreneurs. It can be seen in the destruction of already existing working class homes, witch in turn, are then transformed into middle-class-filled-private-apartments, and massive office blocks. The whole social structure of the area is completely changed.

Observing the regeneration plans, one will find the spacial circumference of Tom Kelly Flats, as it sits now, is being directly divided in half; with one half going to middle-class-filled-private apartments, and a massive office block, and the other half giving to the local indigenous community, who subsequently, are then forced further back to the margins of the city; where there they are kept out of sight, and out of mind.

In 1998, we observed how McNamara was giving the green light to regenerate the area. This manifestation of Private Public Partnership deals – (PPP's), had enabled regeneration projects to push through neoliberal urban policies. The PPP's were designed to maximise profits for real estate capitalists, and had hardly anything at all to do with decent housing for the locals. Almost immediately, people were dispersed from their homes, and buildings, one after the other, started to come down around us.

Even the spectacular crash of MacNamaras PPP's wasn't enough to halt such mindless destruction, as Dublin City Council – (DCC) continued to wreak havoc upon the neighbourhood by laying ruin to our homes, and extinguishing all traces of human life from the area. Recently, we witnessed again, when two more structurally sound blocks of flats were raised to the ground, all the while the homelessness list steadily grows.

This meaningless and unethical destruction of structurally sound housing while so many people remain homeless, is state sponsored vandalism; it's a crime against humanity!

In capitalism, there is a theory that presupposes a trickle down effect will somehow help the 'bottom rung' of society. Basically, what they mean by this, is when the rich have exploited all they can from the working class, they can then feed the poor with the scraps from their spoils.

Essentially, this is what Reilly presented in the original plans to the locals as his piecemeal development. The promise of new job growth for the entire area was extolled by the mighty idea of the middle class transforming our backward and underdeveloped little district, into a more attractable place for new businesses, enabling them to flourish and develop, and in return, would see the transformation of the local economy with the population greatly benefiting from the spoils of capital...however, as we have discovered...nothing more could have been further from the truth.

Once built, many of the job vacancies were quickly filled by non-residents, and the new workforce were quickly put to work in their 9-5 jobs, stacking shelves for a minimum wage. The attraction of working a 9-5 for minimum wage was lost on most here, however, all most wanted was a job with a decent living wage. So unless we have jobs with a decent living wage, people will continue to look elsewhere for other means to procure an income, weather it's through available state provisions, or by other means of appropriating it against the wishes of state...either way, when people are hungry, they will always find a way to feed themselves.

Unemployment is as rampant as ever for Charlemonts' residents, and a desperate lack of opportunities and prospects available have left lasting affects on many; demoralising an entire community who are left feeling exasperated at the long lasting affects of gentrification. No new opportunities on any scale of the imagination have ever come to fruition for Charlemont Streets residents. The continued lack of opportunities and prospects available have led to a sever increase in alcohol and drugs-abuse, and anti-social behaviour, and that's about it.

The desecration of this working class neighbourhood has taking on the form of a gentrified blitzkrieg; hammering down on the cityscape with its deathblows of financial enterprise leaving a devastating trail of deliberate dereliction in its path; displacing entire families who continue to be driven out to the margins of Dublin City.

It wasn't too long ago when the community was able to stand on its own two feet, but the old tried tactic of divide an conquer has taken its toll. The community has been displaced far and wide and left weakened in its state...momentarily only, we hope.

But there is hope..
In Charlemont Street there lives a tree. What's most noticeable about this tree is its size when compared to the other trees around it of the same kind. Standing around four times smaller than its neighbouring siblings, this tree has suffered the worst because of its small size in stature. It's easily climbable, and down through the years many children have effortlessly clambered up its trunk and swung from its branches in the air, pulling at its leaves and knocking off its bright red berries to the ground below.

But unlike all the other trees, this one was a little bit more special. Despite having nearly all of its branches broken, and all of its leaves and berries stripped bare. Despite being the only tree in the vicinity that had to struggle against the odds. Despite all the hardship it suffered...each year without fail...this little tree would act in a way that would signal the start of a new beginning, a time when hardships would come to an end - ushering in a new cycle of life and hope, this little tree, the smallest of them all, was always first to bloom.

So remember too, although at times we appear to be small in size, and up against great odds, and how we too have suffered, like the little tree had suffered, tremendous hardship down through the years at having the very things we cherish stripped bare, right down to the basic essentials.

We too, like the little tree, have our roots running strong and deep, all the way to the centre of the earth, and we will continue to grow strong and build up our own form, to represent ourselves, going on to discard all contradictions that determine how we live by the mouth of strangers.

Spreading out our branches in all directions, we will reach into the four corners of the city, and beyond; connecting with the disaffected and dissenting voices, joining forces to finally topple once and for all the old forms of social injustice and oppression; ushering in a new beginning under a paradigm that unites us all.

To be continued...


author by Nicopublication date Mon Mar 24, 2014 13:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This image here clearly exemplifies the ongoing gentrification process in Charlemont Street. While the digger clears up what's left of a one time social housing unit block of flats, the massive private office block on the left, and middle-class-filled private apartments on the right, can now be seen encroaching the entire community.


author by Nicopublication date Tue Mar 25, 2014 19:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Like Moore Street, Charlemont Street is facing the loss of something of great historical importance, its People!

Many working class districts around Dublin are facing tough decisions these days. Run-down neighbourhoods have impacted on peoples lives, and neoliberal urban policy initiatives have led entire working class districts to becoming completely gentrified. Working Class people are being driven out to the margins of the city, while their homes are destroyed to make way for massive office blocks, and middle-class-filled private apartments. Local indigenous communities are being displaced, confined, and their neighbourhoods completely decimated, by the unscrupulousness activities of big-time crooked private property developers.

Even with all this building going on, no new opportunities ever present themselves in the long run for the local populations, who after a few years of living in newly built houses they received as payment for all their troubles, soon then find themselves back to square one, under an alien social structure, fighting for equal opportunities, and searching once again for decent, adequate housing, as has happened already around the country in the not too distant past.

Social exclusion has had a major impact on the way we govern ourselves too. It has left us voiceless, all the while the major decisions in our lives are made, undemocratically, on our behalf.

So we ask you, will you stand up, and support you local communities?

Inner City Communities of Ireland Unite, You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Chains!

Save Charlemont Street


Related Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Charlemont-Street/118996854837382
author by Nicopublication date Thu Mar 27, 2014 17:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

New website for all your latest news and developments on Charlemont Street.


Related Link: http://savecharlemontstreet.org/
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